4-H Grows Here

4-H Frequently Asked Questions

Commonly asked questions and answers about 4-H in Mahaska County

What is 4-H?
4-H is a program for any youth in 4th-12th grade with an interest in leadership development and learning life skills such as communication, teamwork, citizenship & civic engagement, and responsibility.  Most 4-H clubs meet once per month to hold their business meetings.  Meetings typically take 1-2 hours, depending on how the 4-H club has organized their activities.  Frequently, a group activity/craft and member presentations are held each month in addition to the business meeting (totaling the 1-2 hour-long meeting).  Sometimes clubs incorporate guest speakers, demonstrations, or workshops in with their monthly meetings.  Check with 4-H Club Leaders to learn more about how their club meetings are organized.  4-H is supported by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach and over 100 local volunteers who serve as leaders, superintendents, and as members of various committees.  Kindergarten-3rd grade children are welcome to enroll in our Clover Kids program, which holds monthly meetings at various locations across the county.
Who is eligible to be a 4-H member and when can I join?
Any youth in 4th-12th grade is eligible to join a club in Mahaska County. You do not have to live in the country or on a farm to participate. 4-H is available to all youth. There is a myth that you must live on a farm, which is not true.  A youth may join at any time during the year. However, to exhibit at the county fair you must join as a new member before May 15 of this year.  Those returning to 4-H must re-enroll by January 1 to be eligible to exhibit at the fair.  Mahaska County
4-H has a 75% attendance policy.  4-H’ers must attend at least 75% of their club’s meetings and/or functions, with options to attend county-wide/state-wide 4-H activities and events to earn extra “points”.  Members must work with their 4-H Leaders to figure out how attendance will be calculated to make sure they are adhering to the policy.   There are also opportunities for children in grades K-3 to join Clover Kids.
Is there a monetary cost associated with being a member or going to the fair?
There is a program fee of $35 per youth per year. Clubs may decide how to pay the fee. Some clubs will pay program fees out of the club treasury. Other clubs may ask members to pay the $35 fee. Projects created or maintained by a member may require cash expenditures. These projects are the member’s choice. Educational project literature pieces (Hot Sheets) are available for free by contacting the Extension office.   
Individual clubs may charge annual dues. This is determined by each club.
At this time, there is no additional fee to take part in the Southern Iowa Fair besides individual project expenses (creating exhibits, raising animals, etc.).  4-H members are not charged an entry or stall fee for the fair at this time.  Mahaska County 4-H raises funds to pay premium money to youth for each project exhibited.
How do I join a 4-H club?
You can join any one of over 12 clubs located throughout the county by calling the Extension Office at 641-673-5841. Our office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The staff will provide you with written material about 4-H, suggest clubs in your area, & explain the enrollment process.
Can I belong to more than one club?
Yes, a member may join a regular community club, as well as a special-interest club.  For example, a 4-H youth may be a member of the Maker Club and also a member of the Garfield Boosters community club.  A member may also join only special-interest clubs.  For example, a 4-H member may join both Maker Club & the Livestock Special-Interest clubs, without also joining a community club.   Members may also transfer their membership to another club if they so desire by contacting their club leader and the Extension Office.
Are there any special-interest clubs?
Yes, we currently offer (Fall 2021) the 4-H Maker Club, Adams Champs 4-H Project Workshop Club, and the 4-H Livestock Special-Interest Club.  The Maker Club focuses on hands-on activities and career exploration.  Activities can range from kitchen science and robotics to industrial technology and civic engagement.  Members of these clubs may exhibit at the fair and take part in the various 4-H activities throughout the year.  We also have a Ricochet Leadership Club at the Oskaloosa Middle School with plans to expand in future years.  We are looking into the possibility of adding a healthy-living and/or Mindful Teen club in the future.
Of what importance are club meetings and who should attend?
Club meetings serve as the information link for members and their families. Members receive help on projects, application forms, and programs. Members also get involved in service projects, make friends, and learn about life skills. All members are highly encouraged to attend meetings on a regular basis. Parents also are encouraged to attend to stay informed on 4-H news and events. Meetings are usually held once a month.
Can a member enroll in additional project areas after they complete their profile in 4-H Online?
Yes, a member may add additional project areas at any time by logging into their 4-H Online account and adding or subtracting projects listed.  Find a current list of Iowa 4-H project areas here.
What is a 4-H workshop about?
A 4-H workshop provides members with additional information about a certain topic or event.  For example, we have held 4-H Communications, Leather crafts, Photography, Record Keeping, and Pinterest workshops in the past.  We also hold clinics, which are for the livestock areas.  Dog Obedience & Agility Superintendents hold classes each spring-summer to prepare members and their dogs for exhibiting at the fair.  Horse Superintendents hold clinics throughout the year to provide members with extra information and experience in regards to horses, ponies, and mules.  Each year, members are required to attend a certain number of Dog and Horse clinics in order to be eligible to exhibit at the fair. 
What is a record book and do I have to complete one?
Record keeping is a valuable life-long skill. The record book is a permanent summary of your activities, projects, and participation throughout the year. County awards are given to members based on their record book. These records can serve as a financial record for planning. All members are strongly encouraged to complete a record book each year. All forms necessary to complete a record book are available from the Extension Office and online at https://www.extension.iastate.edu/mahaska/page/4-h-fair-award-forms.

What is an Achievement Show?
An Achievement Show is an event held prior to the fair sponsored by a club for club members to give them experience in conference judging and receive suggestions on how to improve their projects.  Not all clubs offer Achievement Shows.   

Does every 4-H member have to give an educational presentation?
Yes, all 4-H members are encouraged to participate in the educational presentation process. Members should give at least one educational presentation at the club level each year and may choose to participate at the county level. Members grow and learn by this participation.  Presentations can be basic, like how to fold a paper airplane, how to tie your shoes, or a brief (2-3 minute) talk about a subject of interest to the 4-H member.

How does a youth get to show at the county fair?
The county fair is open to any youth who is a member of a Mahaska County 4-H club or FFA chapter. Youth must meet entry deadlines to exhibit at the county fair. Contact the Extension Office or your club leader for information about project requirements.

If I nominate my animal/livestock projects by May 15 or at a weigh-in, are there any other requirements that I need to fulfill before the county fair to be eligible to exhibit?
Yes, anyone planning to exhibit Rabbit, Poultry, Sheep, Beef, Dairy, Meat Goat, or Swine at the fair must complete YQCA Training or Testing online (or face-to-face if available) before the fair.  See the monthly 4-H Newsletter for details about the training.  Members with Market Beef, Market Lambs, Meat Goats, Swine, Horses, Rabbits, or Poultry must complete an affidavit form at the fair, this is especially important for animals that will go through the sale.  These forms tell buyers what, if any, medication has been given to the animal.  Members must also tell their club leader or designated volunteer how many stalls/pens/cages they will need for the fair, please do not include tack stalls in your figure.  Tack stalls are given as space allows and can not be guaranteed.  It is more important to have adequate space for all of the animals rather than space for extra buckets, bedding, chairs, and scoop shovels.  The stall reservations will be due a few weeks before the county fair.

How do  I enter my fair exhibits?
We now use a system called FairEntry in Mahaska County for all 4-H & FFA animal and non-animal exhibits, including the Awardrobe Clothing Event, Communications Event, and Pet Show.  Please see the monthly 4-H newsletter for full details regarding the FairEntry process.

What is an Educational Presentation and how is it different from a Working Exhibit?
An educational presentation is a presentation by a member(s) on a topic of their choice. Topics should be age appropriate. The presentation format may take any form (speech, demonstration, role play, etc.). The presentation should last 5-25 minutes (dependent on age of 4-H’er). Educational presentations are judged the week prior to the county fair. A Working Exhibit will involve members of the audience. The audience will actually be involved in the construction of an item or in the educational activity. Working Exhibits are judged at the county fair.

Does a member have to take an exhibit to the county fair?
All members are encouraged to take at least one exhibit to the county fair, but are not required to do so.  The fair is the culmination of preparation and learning. Friendly competition and fellowship are a valuable part of learning. Members may enroll in as many project areas as they desire, but are not required to complete an exhibit in each area for which they enroll.

What are the due dates for various project and 4-H requirements?
Note: This is not a complete list. Other information and deadlines will be listed in your 4-H newsletter, in the Project Guide, listed in local newspapers, or given at your club meetings.
Livestock weigh-ins are as follows:
   Market Beef – mid-late December.  Identification and registration numbers for the Iowa State Fair beef animals are due in 4-H Online by February 1st.
   Breeding Beef - Heifers can be tagged at the December weigh-in, but it is not required.  We no longer offer Heifer Tattooing.  Heifers can be identified with a 4-H ear tag or registration tattoo.  Breeding Heifers & Cow/Calf must be identified in 4-H Online by May 15.  Registration numbers and birthdates are due in 4-H Online by May 15.
   Swine – late March or early April.  Iowa State Fair pigs must have USDA tags AND DNA punch tags in ears and info in 4-H Online by May 15. 
   Sheep/Meat Goats/Bottle Lambs & Bottle Goats – early May.  Identification information and registration numbers/birthdates are due in 4-H Online by May 15. 
Official registration for the Iowa State Fair is due in FairEntry (online) by July 1st.  Ak-Sar-Ben Stock Show registration is now handled by the individual exhibitor's family and not completed through the local Extension office.
November 15
- 4-H enrollments are due to the Extension Office. Members may enroll after that date; however, newsletters, educational literature, and project meeting notices may not be sent to the member on a timely basis.
January 1
-  Final date to RE-enroll in 4-H and still be eligible to exhibit at the county fair that year.  Members must be in good standing (enrolled in 4hOnline, dues paid, code of conduct signed) to be eligible. 
May 15
-  Livestock I.D. nominations must be completed in 4hOnline.
-  4-H State Conference registrations are due to Extension Office
July 1
-  State Fair Entries due in FairEntry system.  It is the responsibility of the 4-H family to double-check all of the entry information in 4hOnline prior to May 15 to ensure all information entered is correct and nothing is missing.  Please check the 4-H Livestock at the State Fair website for full livestock class requirements.  https://www.extension.iastate.edu/4h/statefair/livestock
This summary is designed to cover basic common questions that members and families may have. It does not answer all questions in detail but is to serve as a general guide. For more information about 4-H, project areas, and requirements, please contact your club leader or the Mahaska County ISU Extension and Outreach office at 641-673-5841 or email vermeerA@iastate.edu.

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